Data breaches are a hard reality that every organization must prepare for, especially those that handle sensitive Protected Health Information (PHI). With constant developments making both the sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks an ongoing battle for businesses, it’s important to keep in mind that external hackers are actually less than half of the problem. There is a more than 50% chance that breaches are caused by insider threats. An ever-increasing number of devices and growing volumes of data in healthcare and other sectors are signs of growth and innovation; however, with that comes the need to guard against insider risks that could be detrimental to your business operations and the security of clients, partners, and even other employees of your organization.
Insiders play a huge role in the vulnerability and risk of breaches in corporations both large and small. Healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services are some of the main industries that experience a high volume of attacks. With varying degrees of financial assets, PHI, intellectual property, and physical inventory, different industries will have interventions that more specifically address the issue of insider threat. There is, however, a commonality among every business, and that’s people. As long as businesses need employees, there will always be risks involved. While there are occasions of inadvertent attacks and unavoidable human error, there are even more instances charged with malicious intent by insiders. Below are some basic security guidelines to help you keep insider threat at bay:
Identify your assets. This might seem like flat advice, but it’s surprising how many businesses skip this rudimentary step in clearly identifying valuable systems and data. It’s only once you’re very clear on what assets you’re responsible for, and the risks involved, that you are able to create and implement an effective monitoring and defense strategy. Hone in and bulk up your security efforts around sensitive assets.
Apply strict rules and closely monitor your IT solutions. It’s hard to spot things like Shadow IT as an insider threat because you don’t always know what you don’t know. It’s becoming more prevalent for employees to deploy shadow IT as a means of finding their own solutions. Ensuring that your IT department is up to date on current, secure software innovations can go a long way in avoiding the necessity for unknown IT deviations that could put you at risk. While shadow IT shouldn’t be regarded as a wholly derogatory term, integrating unauthorized software can cause a lot of problems in your internal processes and can be considered a major insider threat.
Get to know your team. Another simple solution that is often forgotten in a landscape that is increasingly run by digital communication and busy work calendars. The better you understand the functions of the users who manage sensitive information and carry out IT functions, the more likely you are to identify the security risks that are present within your organization. Addressing these security risks presented by IT admins, top executives, and at-risk employees is critical.
Employ deep analytics. Using deep analytics and AI can reveal deviations in behavior by your employees who are often on repeating schedules and are prone to habits in their task-based work and interactions with technology. Divergent behavior can make it easier to spot systems that have been compromised. Collecting and analyzing data is crucial and can reveal policy violations on the employee level that were previously flying under the radar.
Remember security basics. With the prevalence of emerging technology, it’s easy to get carried away with the latest and greatest tools. However, actions like applying software patches and enforcing a strict password policy are the tried and true methods that still do a lot of heavy lifting when guarding against insider threats. Collect data and forensics on every device that connects to your network so you are the first to know if you’ve been hacked. Another simple solution that is often underestimated as a security basic is insider education. Your employees should be thoroughly trained, tested, and kept up to date with the latest standards and policies that you choose to integrate. This will let your employees know that you take security seriously and expect them to comply with the regulations you have put into place.
While breaches caused by external hackers are a definite threat to the security of your organization, it’s critical to remember to do everything you can to prevent insider threats which are more prevalent than you might realize. Take these simple reminders to heart and deepen your security efforts, starting where it counts most—inside your own walls.